So after leaving the Barricades – and meeting up with the super fabulous Rachel, Ali, Rich and Helen – I headed to the new St James Theatre in Victoria for An Evening With Hadley Fraser.
Now anyone who knows me knows how much love I have for Hadley as both an actor and as an artist. I first came across his talent when I saw him as Javert back on my first visit to Les Miserables in January 2012, and ever since, have grown to absolutely adore his music too.
There was one point where I was going to have to miss this gig, as Hadley had only announced a gig for the Sunday night at first. As a school teacher, I was due to return to work first thing on Monday morning, so there was no way I would be able to go – and I was extremely upset about this! However, due to overwhelming demand, he announced additional dates – and I couldn’t get tickets fast enough!
Back to the gig – and first a massive shout out to everyone at the St James Theatre. This new venue is a brilliant find, and all the staff were extremely friendly and welcoming! If you get a chance to go down for any performance there, you shouldn’t miss it! I will definitely be going back soon!
To the gig!
In the Studio part of the venue, we were presented with a perfect setting for what was sure to be an amazing show!
The show started with the sensational Craig Mather playing some of his own original material. Craig is such a talent when he performs on stage in Les Miserables – and I am pleased to report that it looks like his solo songs are just as good, maybe even better! It was a pleasure to witness his performance of what, I hope very very soon, is going to make a stunning album.
Alongside his original material, he also did a cover of “Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine” by the Killers – which was brilliant!
Then, the main event – Mr Hadley Fraser!
You will have to forgive me if the rest of the review seems overly soppy – I just want you all to feel the way I did about what was just a sensational evening. I have seen Hadley perform live once before, but this gig was beyond anything I could have expected.
Every single song for me was absolute perfection. A mix of old, new and covers made for the perfect musical evening. Hadley took us on a tour of his own material, some which had been updated and tweaked by both himself and the super talented Tom Deering, who was on piano for the evening. He performed several covers – including Toto’s “Africa” – yes you heard that right, as well as the sensational “River Take Me” by Darrell Scott (If you don’t know this name – go and look it up – the man is a genius!)
Some personal highlights for me included a stunning version of “Furious Ball” (very Ravel/Debussy), Herne and the Red Kite (which featured the stunning vocals of Rosalie Craig), and a personal favourite “How Many Times“, but this was only just the start of the perfection that I heard.
Speaking of Rosalie Craig – who loooked stunning by the way, we were privileged to learn that Rosalie will be performing at the National Theatre next year in a play by Tori Amos! Rosalie also performed a Tori Amos song – just showing how super talented she is! Can’t wait to see her at the National next year!
Back to Hadley . . .
Towards the end of the evening, Hadley stood alone on stage and treated us to some solo numbers without the support of his band – the sign of a truly magnificent artist! Two of these songs were ones that were written by the truly brilliant Scott Alan (Again, go and look him up if you don’t know the name!) After Hadley masterfully sang “Take Me Away“, he announced that he would then be singing another Scott Alan song, “Again” – and my heart skipped a beat!
“Again” is one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard and the fact that I would be present when Hadley sang it live was one of the most special moments in my entire life. He performs that song with such emotion and grace, that it broke my heart and I just burst into tears! Such a special moment for me!
When I thought it couldn’t get any better, Hadley lifted the roof off the venue, when he summoned Ramin Karimloo – who had been watching the show from the bar all night – to join him on stage! Could I believe my eyes – was I about to witness a one night only Sheytoons reunion? YES I WAS! To see two of my favourite artists together on that stage, performing “Driftwood“, and most importantly having so much fun, was just another special moment for me that I was so honoured to witness.
After an encore, and some heckling from Ramin and Craig (which prompted Tom Deering to suggest a brief Les Mis reunion!), Hadley brought the gig to a close on a very personal note with a song – which sadly I don’t know the name of, that meant so much to him – he had to stop as he was getting teary and compose himself before he could finish the song. For me, a moment like this, which bought tears to everyone’s eyes, just shows what kind of man Hadley is – kind, humble and such a good soul.
This was one of the best evenings I have ever had the honour and privilege to experience.
What I continue to admire most about Hadley is that I don’t think he knows how talented he is. He is such a special soul, with an amazing gift for songwriting and performing, and I can say, hand on heart, one of the kindest, sweetest guys I have ever had the privilege to meet. To say I wish him all the success in the world is an understatement – but he doesn’t need it! His music and wonderful spirit speaks for itself.
I always look awful when I have my photo taken with Hadley – but you know what? Just looking at this picture makes me smile and remember that night, that music, and that man with such amazingly beautiful memories. I can only pray that I have the chance to experience another performance like this very soon.
Thanks for reading
Blue Eyed Girl
(All photos copyright to O.Edmonds)